What is SOPA?
SOPA stands for the Stop Online Piracy Act, a bill that sounds like it’ll stop piracy, but in fact it has the potential for much more damaging effects than that. A bomb doesn’t just destroy an enemy's weapons and attach a pair of handcuffs around that enemy. It kills the entire entity and SOPA is set to do just that.
SOPA gives the power to the entertainment industry to censor sites that “engage in, enable or facilitate” copyright infringement. You’d be right in assuming that vague language persists through out the bill. In fact, SOPA is so unclear that it could envelop sites as broad and un-piracy-leaning as Twitter and Facebook.
SOPA will allow the piracy-afflicted entertainment industry to block domain names that are even simply capable of copyright infringement. That means a site like youtube, where individuals can upload a video of themselves singing a popular song, could be completely shut down. What’s more, the user who uploaded the video in questions can be sent to jail for up to 5 years. The site in question has 5 days to submit an appeal, in which case the site is more likely to completely remove the content in question.
Check out the video at the top of this post.
How would GameRevolution be affected by SOPA?
GameRevolution and countless sites like it could continue on in one way, although in many ways its writers and users would be muzzled. Even the suggestion of copyright infringement could warrant a threat to GameRevolution and its users. Because the forums, blogs, FAQs, and member reviews allow you to post your own content, it acts as a threat to the entertainment industry and a target for SOPA.
While we have corporate sponsors who would fight to protect and empower GameRevolution in the Internet’s new landscape, there would be little money left to protect the users. Infringing users would simply have their accounts and posts and comments and blogs deleted, especially when considering the predominance of even slightly copyright-infringing material in the forums.
While we love our readers and our community like no other site, our hands would be bound by the government and the MPAA and RIAA.
What can you do right now?
CONTACT YOUR REPRESENTATIVES IN CONGRESS. Wikipedia currently has the easiest and most direct way of doing this. Head to their website, enter your zip code, and then use the links on the left side of the page to contact your representatives directly.
Here’s the letter I’ve sent to my representative in the House and the Senators who represent my state in the Senate:
To Whom It May Concern:
I graduated from college in December of 2010. Since leaving school and entering the job market, I'm sure you can understand that it's been extremely difficult to find work. One of the few industries that has offered me work I can depend on, work that can pay rent, work that can buy enough food for a month, work that can help me pay back mountains of school loans, is directly dependent on the Internet.
Censorship, unrightfully, of this growing industry would hurt countless individuals across the United States. I understand that you have a duty to other industries that may contribute to the welfare of your district, including the Motion Picture Association of America or the Recording Industry Association of America, and I support those organizations as well, but the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act go too far.
I ask that you vote against these pieces of legislation so that more effective, less broad, less harmful legislation can be considered and discussed.
Thank you for your time,
The best thing you can do is show the people who will eventually decide on SOPA and PIPA how many people will be affected by these pieces of legislation. Be as personal as you can be. The internet is a medium that combines open expression with valuable information. The entertainment industry makes billions upon billions of dollars whether their copyrights are infringed upon or not. SOPA and PIPA use too much brute force to be of geuinely beneficial effect.
Do what you can now, or it may be too late.